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Specializing in Intestine Well being Can Help Weight Loss


Feb. 22, 2024 — Injectable weight reduction medication like Wegovy, Saxenda, and Zepbound have been getting all of the glory these days, however they’re not for everybody. If the inconvenience or value of weight-loss medication is not for you, one other method could also be boosting your intestine microbiome.

So how does one try this, and the way does it work?

“There are a whole lot of various factors naturally in weight acquire and weight reduction, so the intestine microbiome is definitely not the one factor,” mentioned Chris Damman, MD, a gastroenterologist on the College of Washington. He research how meals and the microbiome have an effect on your well being. “With that caveat, it most likely is taking part in an vital function.”

Trillions of Microbes

The concept your intestine is residence to an infinite vary of tiny organisms — microbes — has existed for greater than 100 years, however solely within the twenty first century have scientists had the power to delve into specifics. 

We now know you desire a strong assortment of microbes in your intestine, particularly within the decrease intestine, your colon. They feast on fiber from the meals you eat and switch it into substances your physique wants. These substances ship alerts throughout your physique. 

For those who don’t have sufficient microbes or have too lots of the flawed varieties, it influences these alerts, which may result in well being issues. During the last 20 years, analysis has linked issues within the intestine microbiome to all kinds of circumstances, together with inflammatory bowel illness, autoimmune illnesses like rheumatoid arthritis, metabolic ones like diabetes, and heart problems, bronchial asthma, and even autism.

Thanks to those efforts, we all know quite a bit concerning the interactions between your intestine and the remainder of your physique, however we don’t know precisely how many issues occur — whether or not some teeny critters inside your microbiome trigger the problems or vice versa. 

“That is the issue with a lot of the microbiome stuff,” mentioned Elizabeth Hohmann, MD, a doctor investigator on the Massachusetts Basic Analysis Institute. “Olympic athletes have a greater intestine microbiome than most individuals. Properly, positive they do — as a result of they’re taking note of their weight loss program, they’re getting sufficient relaxation. Correlation doesn’t causation make.” 

The American Weight-reduction plan Messes With Your Intestine

For those who’re a typical American, you eat a whole lot of ultra-processed meals — manufactured with an extended components record that features components or preservatives. In accordance with one research, these meals make up 73% of our meals provide. That may have a critical affect on intestine well being.

“Whenever you course of a meals and mill it, it turns an entire meals into tiny particles,” Damman mentioned. “That makes the meals extremely digestible. However should you eat a stalk of broccoli, a considerable amount of that broccoli within the type of fiber and different issues will make its technique to your decrease intestine, the place it is going to feed microbes.” 

With closely processed meals, then again, most of it will get digested earlier than it may possibly attain your decrease intestine, which leaves your microbes with out the vitality they should survive. 

Rosa Krajmalnik-Brown, PhD, is director of the Biodesign Middle for Well being Via Microbiomes at Arizona State College. Her lab has accomplished analysis into how microbes use the undigested meals that reaches your intestine. She describes the issue with processed meals this manner: 

“Take into consideration a Coke. Whenever you drink it, all of the sugar goes to your bloodstream, and the microbes in your intestine don’t even know you’ve had it. As a substitute of consuming a Coke, should you eat an apple or one thing with fiber, some will go to you and a few to the microbes. You’re feeding them, giving them vitality.”

Weight and Your Intestine Microbiome 

The hyperlink between intestine well being and physique weight has acquired a whole lot of consideration. Analysis has proven, for instance, that folks with weight problems have much less variety of their intestine microbiome, and sure particular micro organism have been linked to weight problems. In animal research, transplanting intestine microbes from overweight mice to “germ-free” mice led these GF mice to achieve weight. This means extra weight is, in truth, attributable to sure microbes, however up to now there’s scant proof that the identical is true with people.

Krajmalnik-Brown’s group did an experiment wherein they’d folks comply with two completely different diets for 23 days every, with a break in between. Each supplied comparable quantities of energy and macronutrients every day, however through completely different meals. The research’s typical Western menu featured processed meals — suppose grape juice, sandwiches made with deli turkey and white bread, and spaghetti with jarred sauce and floor beef. The opposite menu, what researchers known as a “microbiome enhancer weight loss program,” included meals like complete fruit, veggie sandwiches on multigrain buns, and steak with a facet of complete wheat spaghetti. 

Whereas the research wasn’t designed for weight reduction, an fascinating factor occurred when researchers analyzed contributors’ bowel actions.

“We discovered that whenever you feed topics a weight loss program designed to supply extra vitality to the microbes and to not the [body], our topics misplaced just a little weight,” Krajmalnik-Brown mentioned. “It appears like by feeding your microbes, it appears to make folks more healthy and doubtlessly even lose just a little.”

One other doable mechanism entails the identical hormone that powers these injectable weight reduction medication. The decrease a part of your intestine makes hormones that inform your entire intestine to decelerate and in addition assist orchestrate metabolism and urge for food. Amongst them is GLP-1. The medication use an artificial model, semaglutide or tirzepatide, to set off the identical impact. 

In accordance with Damman, you’ll be able to stimulate your intestine to make these useful hormones with the meals you eat — by giving your microbes the fitting gasoline.

Eat to Feed Your Microbes

The meals you eat can have an effect on your intestine microbiome, and so your weight. However don’t go searching for that one excellent ingredient, consultants warn. 

“Oftentimes we get this micro-focus, is that this a great meals or a foul meals?” warned Katie Chapmon, a registered dietitian whose apply focuses on intestine well being. “You simply need to be certain that your microbiome is strong and wholesome, so it communicates that your physique is working, you’ve bought it.”

As a substitute, attempt to give your physique extra of the varieties of meals analysis has proven can feed your microbiome, a lot of that are plant-based. “These are the issues which might be largely taken out throughout processing,” Damman mentioned. He calls them the “4 Fs”:

Fiber: Whenever you eat fiber-rich meals like fruits, greens, complete grains, nuts, and beans, your physique can’t digest the fiber whereas it’s within the higher components of your GI tract. It passes by means of to your decrease intestine, the place wholesome micro organism ferment it. That produces short-chain fatty acids, which ship alerts all through your physique, together with ones associated to urge for food and feeling full.Phenols: Phenolic compounds are antioxidants that give plant-based meals their coloration — whenever you discuss consuming the rainbow, you’re speaking about phenols. The microbes in your intestine feed on them, too. “My aim for a meal is 5 distinct colours on the plate,” Chapmon mentioned. “That rounds out the bases for the completely different polyphenols.”Fermented meals: You may get a distinct form of well being profit by consuming meals that’s already fermented — like sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir, yogurt, miso, tempeh, and kombucha. Fermentation could make the phenols in meals extra accessible to your physique. Plus, every mouthful introduces good micro organism into your physique, a few of which make it all the way down to your intestine. The micro organism which might be already there feed on these new strains, which helps to extend the range of your microbiome. Wholesome fat: Right here, it’s not a lot about feeding the great micro organism in your microbiome. Damman says that omega-3 fatty acids, present in fatty fish, canola oil, some nuts, and different meals, lower irritation within the lining of your intestine. Plus, wholesome fats sources like extra-virgin olive oil and avocados are stuffed with phenols.

Consuming for intestine well being isn’t a magic bullet when it comes to weight reduction. However the advantages of a wholesome intestine go far past shedding a couple of kilos.

“I believe we have to try for well being, not weight reduction.” Krajmalnik-Brown mentioned. “Preserve your intestine wholesome and your microbes wholesome, and that ought to finally result in a wholesome weight. You’ll make your microbes completely satisfied, and your microbes do quite a bit on your well being.”

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